The Labman! Dr. Velumani, the Billionaire founder of Thyrocare - Part 1

In this exclusive two-part series, explore the remarkable journey of Dr. A. Velumani, from rags to riches. Get insights into his favorite drink, the person he'd meet as a billionaire, and the unique story behind Thyrocare's success. Join us for an inspiring interview that sheds light on the genius of 'The Labman’.

The Labman! Dr. Velumani, the Billionaire founder of Thyrocare - Part 1
Do not index
Do not index
Thumbnail
Category
Ofofo Studio
Video preview
Welcome to another episode of the Ofofo Studio series. In this episode, Angad Gill**, CMO of Ofofo.io*, engages in an enriching conversation with Dr. Velumani, founder, chairman, and managing director of Thyrocare Technologies Ltd.
Embark on an extraordinary journey with us as we delve into the fascinating life and achievements of Dr. A. Velumani, the visionary mind behind Thyrocare, in an exclusive two-part series - "The Labman." In Part One, we unravel the captivating narrative of his rise from humble beginnings to becoming a billionaire entrepreneur.
Who stands behind Dr. A. Velumani's unparalleled success? What is the secret elixir fueling his journey? If given the chance to spend an hour with anyone in the world, who would this billionaire choose? And what does it truly feel like to reach such heights of financial success?
Join us in this candid conversation with Dr. Velumani as we explore these questions and more. Whether you're an aspiring entrepreneur seeking guidance or simply curious about the man behind Thyrocare's triumph, this Q&A interview promises to unveil the essence of Dr. A. Velumani's genius. Discover why he is affectionately known as "The Labman" and gain insights that are bound to enlighten and motivate. The story of Thyrocare's ascent awaits – let's dive in!
 
Angad Gill: My guest for today is one of the most interesting people that I've had the pleasure of knowing—Dr. Velumani, the founder of Thyrocare.
 
Dr. Velumani: You can call me the Founder, you can call me the Creator. These two are the ones that never change. Positions like managing director, and CEO, all of them keep changing. So yes, I prefer to be called the Creator of Thyrocare.
 
Angad Gill: What does it feel like to be a billionaire?
 
Dr. Velumani: I believe that the term "billionaire" is just a label that may boost your bank account but doesn't define your true worth. There's a saying in Marathi: Money should be in your pocket, it should not be in your head. I view excessive wealth as parasitic in nature. As a human being, I don't consider myself fundamentally different from when I was a boy playing in my village. I don't think the happiness I experienced when I had no money is any less valuable.
 
Angad Gill: That is a significant journey that you've undertaken. The delta, we were just discussing, it's huge, you know, coming from a place which is an interior village with almost no facilities and no view into urban society to founding one of the largest companies that cater to not just the urban populace, but also small cities in India.
 
Dr. Velumani: It began in a place that was essentially a remote village, lacking in facilities and isolated from the broader society. The company I founded has grown to become one of the largest in its field, serving not only urban areas but also smaller cities in India and even extending its reach to over 10 Asian countries. However, I want to emphasize that this journey was far from easy. It took 60 years of relentless effort to reach where I am today.
I started at the very bottom of the economic pyramid, and it wasn't an overnight success. What's most satisfying to me is that I climbed to the top slice of that pyramid without being indebted to anyone—whether it's family, politicians, or relying on any sort of lottery ticket. It's been a journey marked by sheer hard work, unwavering discipline in managing finances, and above all, an intense focus on my goals. These four ingredients, I believe, don't require wealth to attain, and I was fortunate to have them in abundance.
 
Angad Gill: But did you build on all of those ingredients over time, or do you think that you always had the innate ability?
 
Dr. Velumani: It's very difficult for me to claim that I was born with all talents. People are born with the ability to think fast or slow. This is God's creation. It's like a computer. Like a computer has three powers: memory, processor, and bandwidth. I think it varies from kilobytes to gigabytes. I think I had the higher version of all three. I think that's the basic starting point.
 
Angad Gill: So when you were in school as a child, was that difference obvious to you?
 
Dr. Velumani: Indeed, looking back, it may not have been obvious at the time, but I can now draw a correlation. My science teacher had a unique approach in class. Before posing questions, he would provide clues rather than the answers. It became clear to him that I would often be the first to respond, and I would sometimes feel restless. However, with time, I came to realize that this meant I was not just keeping up with the current lesson; I was already delving into the material for the next day. In that sense, I was ahead of my peers. Perhaps I was fortunate to possess certain unique capabilities that enabled me to grasp concepts quickly, to effectively communicate, and commit them to my understanding.
 
Angad Gill: And how did you first start making use of those abilities?
 
Dr. Velumani: I believe these abilities I possessed helped me excel and accomplish tasks quickly, which, in turn, provided me with more available time. With extra time on my hands, I was able to undertake more activities. However, during my childhood, particularly between the ages of 10 to 15, my family was in a financially difficult situation, and I had to support them. This meant working on the farm for two to three hours in the morning and again in the evening. It also meant sacrificing my playtime, although it was essential for my parents' well-being. I believe that if I hadn't been able to support my parents beyond school hours, they might not have been able to send me to school. I remember that during heavy rainy days, I would skip school to help my parents because there was a lot of work to be done on those days. I felt that instead of attending school full-time, I could contribute part-time to this busy life. It was a period in my life when I had increased responsibilities, but it was undoubtedly worthwhile. Despite these challenges, I still managed to rank second or third in my class. My only regret was that I could never secure the first position, as missing even one week of school meant falling behind in subjects and achieving perfection was essential to me. I used to help my mother, and she would always appreciate my efforts, and her efforts would be appreciated by her peers and our neighbors as well. One day, in front of me, a lady told my mother, "Your son is very intelligent. One day, he will become very successful and powerful." I cherish those words, and I believe she saw some potential, speed, and smartness in me. Her words were encouraging and gave me hope for a brighter future.
 
Angad Gill: So what do you think? Like could you sense a path that your parents had laid out for you?
 
Dr. Velumani: I must tell you here, everybody gets onto the stage and declares the reason for their success is their parents, they gave them everything. I also declared that the reason for my success was my parents, but they didn’t give me anything. You can give everything as parents, and your child may score good marks, but later on, that does not guarantee success in their career. Conversely, if the parents don’t give anything, yet the child still succeeds in their career, chances are that the child will be successful throughout their life. I had written in my PhD Thesis, acknowledgment, last paragraph, I thank my parents for not giving me anything except freedom. Very important is giving children freedom. Today’s parents give their children everything except freedom. That’s very bad. Children should be allowed to make mistakes. The person who has not made any mistakes will not be able to make a successful journey. I think I would like to educate parents to please give their children freedom. Do not chase them to score marks.
Here’s a punchline for you. Marks are marks, marks are not knowledge. Qualification is qualification, qualification is not knowledge. Knowledge is Knowledge and knowledge only comes by learning. Knowledge doesn’t come by teaching. Learning by experience gives you the highest level of experience.
So I think I was fortunate. I didn’t have an atlas, I didn’t have a dictionary. I didn’t have any of the gadgets that people used to have. I didn’t even have full textbooks. I used to borrow them from people and study. So I believe that the environment in which I grew up is, in fact, today the reason for my success. I believe that there is nothing else other than the power of my poverty. Power of having born in a village. I didn’t have any gadgets, any transport, any infrastructure, no water came home, you had to go and fetch the water. I must tell you here, that I did not wear a full trouser until I was done with my 12th grade of schooling. I’ve never worn chappals until I finished my 12th grade of schooling. Until I finished graduation, there were no chairs available at home. When I tell people these things, people find it difficult to believe but those were the days when there were no buses or taxis on the road, there were only cycle rickshaws. I want to emphasize here that children who have seen the worst will never suffer in their lives. They will always think, things used to be like this, now it is better. Four years back, I was in a 7-star hotel, and a very rich lady with a 7-year-old son walked through the room. The buffet spread was around 10 meters long. The child was led by her mother and the child liked none of the items. If in a 7-star hotel, you don’t feel hungry, I feel that life has come to an end. Hunger is everything.
Here’s another punchline for you. The empty intestines only run the economy; if the stomach is full, the economy stops. If you look at the rich countries, GDP is low. If you look at the poorer countries, GDP is high. Hunger is good.
 
Angad Gill: Let's talk about hunger. At what point in time did you realize that you had a hunger to achieve more than what was being offered in the village? At what point in time did you want to move out and get more for yourself?
 
Dr. Velumani: I think there are two kinds of people: one who has hunger and then moves out, and another who is restless and then moves out.
 
Angad Gill: You were the latter?
 
Dr. Velumani: I was the latter. I didn’t know what capabilities I had. I didn’t know what capabilities others didn’t have. I just felt let’s see what’s out there. By nature, I can’t continue doing the same thing in the same way for the third year. I need change. I will create change if nothing is changing. So that’s how the journey has been. But I don’t think even in my dreams I had ever envisioned that I would lead a 20,000 people company and that I would be the MD of the company. Such things could not even be fantasized. I was always thinking that I would be a good officer because I am now a graduate and then I will sit in the office. Those days I looked at the entire locality that I was residing in and all graduates had fair-looking wives. That’s where the fantasy ends.
 
Angad Gill: Did you not get enamored by that? Did you not think life is supposed to be like that, and I don't need to work for more?
 
Dr. Velumani: That was not the destination. It was, in fact, the first goal, not the primary goal. At 25 you need to get married; you know in villages, fairness has a very big premium. So I thought that I was entitled to it back in school and college. Then I thought that if I had a decent income, then my children would have schooling and life. Even when I was 37 years old when I started the business, 6 months before making the decision I did not know that I would do business. The majority of my decisions were taken overnight. They were not incubated. No decision of mine was incubated very long.
 
Angad Gill: Is there any decision of yours on which, if you think back, you would like to decide otherwise?
 
Dr. Velumani: Oh no. Let me answer this question philosophically. If I get an opportunity to relive my life, I want the same parents, same village, same school, same struggle, same train to Mumbai, same marriage, same wife, same everything. It’s such a wonderful biriyani, why experiment with the recipe? I haven’t done anything that I really regret. It’s simple really. That’s why I keep saying that my journey was very smooth; it was very natural. I only had more than the energy to make it happen.
 
Angad Gill: A lot. A lot of people that I talk to, and sometimes even myself, have trouble making decisions with conviction, especially as the seriousness and the consequences of those decisions increase. How do you overcome that? How do you make decisions so fast about something that could impact the lives of 10,000 people who are working with you?”
 
Dr. Velumani: There are people who succeed and there are people who don’t make the tough decisions. So, this I have very clearly understood. Either you can discuss or you can decide. You can't do both. The mistake that I see most people make is that they are discussing with people; they are not deciding. When you discuss, especially with the people who love you, who care about you, they are very nice people. And these are very peculiar hitch here. The people who love you don't want you to struggle. But in life, the fact is, if you do what is easy to do, it is not right to do. And if you do what is right to do, it is not easy to do. And people who love you will not allow you to do what is difficult to do. So, you don't make decisions.
So, this is what I have seen with hundreds and thousands of people. They do not make decisions because they discuss with people. But why didn't I discuss it with people? That's a very important question. Because all the time in my life, important stakeholders are around, earlier parents, then wife and children, and then employees, etc.. But in my life, there is nothing known as the right decision. Take a decision and make it right. You need to have that courage. Also, if your life is at the mercy of someone else, father, or father-in-law, then you need to take their opinion because you are dependent on them. I was a king in my own right. I could take any decision because I was willing to face the consequences. So among 1000 people, only one can make a decision on their own and still be right. There are 10 among a 1000 who make the wrong decision because of their ego which leads to distress. So, it's not that easy, but I think I was fortunate. Having said that, I had confidence in myself. I don't have anything to lose. I think I have said this in many forms; let me repeat it here. Success in life is a delta. Delta is equal to x2 - x1. x2 is where you are today, and x1 is where you were back then. If your x1 was zero, then you will have nothing to lose. And if you have nothing to lose, then you make quick decisions. The rich cannot make quick decisions, only the poor can make quick decisions.
 
Angad Gill: Yeah, let's talk about some of the early decisions that you made about your life. Let's talk about the train that you got on to get to Bombay. What made you go to Bombay?
 
Dr. Velumani: I was fortunate to have received an interview letter from Bhabha Atomic Research Center. A premium research institution in the country. A Government of India job. I knew that if I secured this job, my future would undergo a significant transformation. However, it's worth noting that my journey was different from that of many others. While some individuals from the southern part of India, like Madras (now Chennai), often choose to go to places like Singapore or Silicon Valley due to their proficiency in English and less familiarity with Hindi, I faced a different challenge. For me, relocating to Mumbai in the state of Maharashtra presented a unique challenge because Marathi and Hindi were the primary languages spoken there, and my familiarity with Marathi was limited.
 
Angad Gill: Did you speak any Hindi or English until then?
 
Dr. Velumani: The first thing I learned in Hindi was “Seedha Jao” (Go Straight) because I had an address in my hand. I would show it to the guard, and he would say “Seedha Jao.” In fact, I must tell you, I did not know that Mohammed Rafi was a singer, not an actor. In my experience, India is made up of two countries. One is Tamil Nadu, and the other is the rest of India. That's it. Yeah. So that was one thing. But having said that, coming to the question that you asked, there are five decisions that made me who I am today. The first is leaving Coimbatore. I left Coimbatore without discussing it with my father. I bought the ticket and told him this was what I was going to do. He didn't stop me. He couldn't stop me.
 
Angad Gill: What was his reaction?
 
Dr. Velumani: His reaction was, "My son will be able to manage that." So that was his confidence.
 
Angad Gill: What about your mother?
 
Dr. Velumani: My mother cried a lot. I lied and told her my salary was 2000 rupees; in those days, I got only ₹800 in Mumbai. I lied because it was the only way I could get my mother to agree that it was a great job. Inspectors and sub-inspectors in police stations are not getting that salary here. My salary had anesthetized her pain. I must tell you, two days before I left my home, a couple of my mother's friends came and sat at home and asked her, "Your son is going to Mumbai?" Yes, he is going. You know, girls in Mumbai are very bad? I thought my mother would again cry. But then, you know, after a few seconds, what she said was very, very important. Every mother should remember “A son who is bad will be bad here or in the absence of my eyes.” So she was the one who gave me that confidence and sent me to Mumbai. So I was very happy that she had the clarity. So the first decision was to leave Coimbatore and come to Mumbai without discussing with parents. The second decision was to marry in Mumbai. I married a girl born in Mumbai without discussing it with my mother. The third decision was leaving the government job for which my wife married me without discussing it with her parents. I resigned from my government job. The next decision was to exit my business without discussing it with my children. So these are the most powerful decisions that outline my life and how I did it, and I discussed none of them. I'm pretty clear that this power of making decisions gave me guts and that guts lead to grits and that guts and grits lead to glory.
 
Angad Gill: Yeah, let's talk about your time at Bhabha Atomic Research Center. What did you do there?
 
Dr. Velumani: Incidentally, it's a wonderful space. Twenty thousand people worked for five days a week even 40 years back. No one is given any specific job anybody can think and do whatever they want. Yeah, those who want to work can work and those who do not want to work can sit and rest because there is no specific target or balance sheet that you have to achieve. Huge campus that had schools, colleges, and other facilities. The government splurges a lot on atomic research. So anybody who gets that job will become opiated with that job. What more do I need than this?
But then, fortunately for me, there was a little more to the emotional aspect of it. If I am highly successful, it's only because I had a father who never made a single rupee in his life. Second, I worked under a blind man for 15 years. My boss was blind. Oh, he lost his eyesight when he was 40 because of some retinal detachment. Okay, so I was procured to read science for him. On the first day of the office, I was told he was your boss and he couldn't see. Had I been rich, had I had options in life, I would have resigned and gone back. In life, you are successful only when you have no option. If either you are successful, that means there was no option, or you had too many options and you didn't succeed.
 
Angad Gill: So you’ve only ever chased after Plan A? No, Plan B.
 
Dr. Velumani: No, Plan B, Plan B, never. So then I was reading science for him, reading thyroid chemistry for him. I ended up completing my MSc. and Ph.D. in this subject, and this was due to his mercy. Since he's a blind man, he even put his hand on my shoulder for every need. I was the one. So he wanted to be grateful to me. He gave me an opportunity to do an MS and PhD at Mumbai University. So in my BRC life. I got married and had two children, two degrees, two promotions, and a lot of increments with all amenities. That’s when life was most comfortable.
 
Angad Gill: And that's where most people would stop.
 
Dr. Velumani: That exactly is the punchline. The comfort zone is the danger zone. If you don't realize this, you are gone; you are succumbing to it. I worked there for 14 years. I must tell you, I went inside as a boy, came out as a mature man, went inside with a BSc, came out with a Ph.D., went inside as unmarried, and came out as a married man with two children, everything went down very well. My wife was working with the State Bank of India when one salary became two salaries and then became two big salaries.
Nowadays, no one says I have a very good salary. Everybody says my salary is peanuts. This is another positive way of looking at it. By telling everyone that you are underpaid, you are not going to be compensated for it. I used to always tell everyone that I am well-paid, well-earned, good job. I still remember when I was working in BARC all these colleagues of mine would say that it's not at all a good job to go to a private, you will get a lot of respect. They are still working there. If I was the happiest man there. I just took a decision overnight, and then I quit. So if you ask me, the restlessness was a game. And I had confidence that I knew thyroid better than anyone else. And guys who do not know about thyroid are also making money in thyroid. I have a PhD in thyroid why don't I make it better?
A punchline here: I focus so much on thyroid today that my competitors think it is Android. I focus so much on the thyroid that I am the first man in the entire world to create a brand around a gland. So that's the power of focus, you know, in a 15-gram gland, I created a billion-dollar company. Out of a hundred-kilogram body. I only chose to focus on 15 grams. Many of my peers told me only three tests are in thyroid. What will you get from this? I always believe that focusing on one thing gets you identity. Doing everything gives you survival capability.
The punchline here: if you do a multi-specialty, it is short-term security. If you do a single specialty, it's long-term prosperity. And I did a single specialty. Yeah, I always advise people to do one thing; you will do well. So I believe all these brands today, very successful brands if you see, they are not the ones who do everything. McDonald's does only one thing. And focusing on one thing is powerful.
 
Angad Gill: Yeah, but choosing that one thing according to your interests and competencies is tough, right?
 
Dr. Velumani: Before you started the question, I had a punchline prepared for you -
What you do is not as important as how you do it. Pick up anything. Do it in such a way no one else can do it. So many people say, "I don't get the right project." But you, you just get a project and make it right. People say, "I don't know how to make the right decision." This is what I tell people: take a decision and make it right. Yeah. So, all I say is keep focusing; focus, and you can make it better and better, and probably later you realize that this had so much power.
I never knew that thyroid would become a very powerful journey in the pathology laboratory. Mind you, no one in history has died because of thyroid. It only reduces your energy. It makes you weaker if it is not adequately functioning. Identify, and no one has died due to thyroid dysfunction. If I could do so much with this, there are so many diseases in which people die in the next few hours or a few days, imagine what could be done. So focus on one thing. If you are successful there, you are powerful as a brand.
 
Angad Gill: That's another very interesting thing that I noticed, that you deliberately chose to avoid terminal illnesses.
 
Dr. Velumani: It's not a terminal illness; they are known as acute illnesses. Acute illness and chronic illness are like debt and equity. People do not differentiate. So acute illness comes and goes. Chronic illness comes and doesn't go. Yeah. So acute illness once a patient. Yeah. Chronic illness, once for all patients. Oh, there is no customer acquisition cost frequently required.
 
Angad Gill: Was that choice deliberate, or did it just fall into place?
 
Dr. Velumani: Let me tell you, in my entire journey, nothing was planned. I was awake. When you are awake, you make quick decisions, learn very fast, and understand where you are. Set off on your journey, and the path will present itself. So, people cannot find what their project can give before the start of their journey. That is where you realize the power of visualization of success. You are not seeing the success; you are visualizing. And then I did so many things in this project, which if people in retrospect would analyze, people say Velumani was revolutionary. So if you look at a few things that I have done, I created a centralized kitchen for the country, meaning a single laboratory for the entire country. The samples were flying from Guwahati to Mumbai, and Trivandrum to Mumbai. And no one imagined the sample could fly. It did. Who must have imagined in 1956, sitting here on a small monitor, you could talk to your son in Chicago instantly? No one was imagining. Back in those days, you would have to wait for hours on the line waiting for the operator to connect you. So I created a single laboratory for a population of a billion.
Next, I created the franchise concept, for the first time in the country when such a concept was not existing anywhere in the country. Forget about healthcare; even McDonald's was not in India. So I did that. The next one was I had done Uber before taxis came into the picture. Taxis are standing for 20 hours but running for 4 hours. Today they run 20 hours and stand for 4 hours in pursuit of my thyroid mission. I have done Amazon. Go to a website in ten countries from any city and book a wellness package or diabetes package. The next day morning at 8 o'clock, my man will come to your door. Well, before Amazon came, I did Amazon.
I have done a Walmart. Walmart never makes a profit from the customer. Walmart purchases tens of thousands of units and takes a 50% to 60% discount on the MRP. And the day of the sale, that is their margin. Now, if you look at it, all these put together, what really Velumani has done is a combination of multiple brands. But these brands did not exist then. When I started the business there was no web server because in 1995 there was no username and password concept, there was only a pager. Nothing beyond that. There was no courier. Still, I could get samples using Jet Airways to Mumbai.
I am not a technocrat. I AM A LOGISTICS KING. Blue Dart would get this consignment from Chennai to the Mumbai office. Chennai's cut-off time is 4 pm, and the Mumbai office delivery time is 11 am, whereas my sample would leave Chennai and reach my laboratory by night 1 o'clock, do the testing at 5 o'clock, and report back to Chennai. While people complained that this man was bluffing, how could he report it? And I had to produce my air cargo receipts and everything. You guys are young, but back in my day, they used to run these Kelvinator advertisements. Kelvinator was a refrigerator. “This fridge doesn’t make any noise at all; is it ever working?”. So my company felt the same. So I think a lot of things were done well. In fact today I was telling my children that The diagnostic industry did not exist before 1980 to a size. It came to a size in 1990 and I came in 1995. 30 years, and it had wonderful growth. Then comes COVID. I exit, today the industry is struggling. People are saying since Velumani is not there, there is no fun. But then I was lucky to be there at the right time. Yeah, I think that is the luck. Hard work many people can put in, but timing is timing.
 
Angad Gill: If you could imagine having the current technology back in 1995, how would you do things differently? What makes your journey special is that you called yourself the logistics king, doing it at a time when communication, in its modern form, did not exist.
 
Dr. Velumani: You would not get that thrill that you did when nothing existed. You know, back then, meeting your girlfriend for 10 minutes was very difficult, but if you could meet for even 10 minutes, there was a certain thrill and charm. Today everyone is roaming around together for the whole day, there is no thrill. So even when there was no technology, the fact that we made it happen, it was fun. I believe that if I could take all this technology back to 1995, it wouldn’t have been as fun. If nothing exists and you make things happen, you alone are the king. But when everything exists then there are too many kings.
 
Angad Gill: People, when they're starting something new or when they're starting an idea that hasn't been done before, tend to have a team of co-founders or another co-founder with them. You did not. Why was that?
 
Dr. Velumani: I don’t want you to mistake me as an arrogant man when I give this answer. Movie name - Shivaji the Boss. Rajnikanth(Shivaji) steps out of the helicopter. The villain asks, “You came alone?”. Shivaji replies “A lion comes alone; only pigs come in a herd.” So I saw myself as a lion. I think I didn't see any need for associating with anyone. Associating, partnering, and doing are current concepts. In those days, it was one man who had to learn everything and do it. Today, there is a belief that you will have a tech guy, a marketing guy, a floor guy, an operational guy, and all of you get together, and then you are successful. Each of them fights thinking that because of me, we’re successful; when they face failure, they always say it's because of you. So this is the stupidest way of doing things unless you are in a hurry. But having said that, I was in no hurry. I had no point to prove. I had to secure my family's future. My only goal is to earn better than what I was earning at BARC. To live a little free life instead of working for a government. So if you look at it, becoming a billionaire was not the dream and that is not the dream why do you need that association? Too many people together? It is not simple to work with strangers for years with different philosophies in life in an organization. Unless it's an extraordinarily powerful group like Infosys. Sometimes the concept of power is amplified by getting together, and it amplifies giving exponential wealth and when exponential wealth is shared, everybody is happy. This is rare, you can’t plan for this. Infosys was fortunate to be from 1980 to now, for 40 long years; in that space, they really made it impactful. Every industry has its time, every entrepreneur has their time, if the two times match, then they become very powerful.
 
Angad Gill: Who was your first hire in Thyrocare?
 
Dr. Velumani: My wife. Listen to one punchline here - For a very successful man, a wife becomes the secretary, and for every failed man, the secretary becomes the wife.
 
Angad Gill: You are in a scenario where you are leading a comfortable life at BARC, you have your family in place and your wife has a job; you could have retired and had a peaceful life.
 
Dr. Velumani: Here’s another punchline for you. Some take risks and live to tell the story and there are those who KPM - Khaya, Piya, Mar Gaya (Ate, drank, and died). So you’re asking me why didn’t I eat, drink, and die.
 
Angad Gill: I can understand where you're coming from, But how do you communicate that to your family now?
 
Dr. Velumani: Where do you communicate? They are following you. They are blindly following you. If you are a truthful leader, your family follows you. My parents followed me. My brothers followed me, my wife followed me, my employees followed me, my investors followed me, and my customers followed me because there was absolute truth in it. So I never had a necessity to validate my ideas and decisions. My biggest decision of mine is deciding to leave the BRC job without discussing it with my wife at the time. That time my whole family was at my home. Had I told my wife, the next day my father-in-law would’ve been at my doorstep asking me if I had gone mad. I gave you my daughter because of your government job and now you’re doing this? I didn’t discuss it.
The news went first to my wife. The way I told my wife is an interesting story. It was a Friday evening. I opened my drawer after lunchtime and saw my passbook. Those days it was written physically no digital passbook. My closing balance was like 2,00,000, and my passbook was maintained by my wife, who was working at the State Bank of India, and we had a joint account. This was back in 1995. Today's children and today's adults check the passbook every evening. I hadn't seen my passbook for 10 years, and when I did, I realized my monthly expenditure was 5,000 (in 1995), and I was only using my wife's salary; we never touched my salary. So I thought this 2,00,000 was sufficient for 40 months. I first wanted to take care of my family. You are entitled to take a risk at your expense, but you are not entitled to take a risk at the expense of your family. Fools take risks at the expense of everyone else. So my family was safe. This was the first item to be checked off.
Then I saw my friends had already bought three-bedroom kitchens in Mumbai. I was the only guy who didn't buy a house, which meant no EMI. No EMI means that I did not have any financial burden. This was the second item that was checked off.
And then my wife is working at the State Bank of India, a very good and secure job. I could rely on her. This was the third item that I checked off. So I made a decision to resign, gave my resignation letter, and went home. I did not tell my wife that day. Until 2 am, I was still awake. My wife saw me and asked me why I was still awake, and I said I had resigned. She knows that I don't tell lies at night. She got worried, and after looking at me for a few seconds, she said, "You didn’t even discuss this with me. If you don't go to the office tomorrow, even I will not." Now of the 3 items that were checked off, one was unchecked again. That was a big shock to me because she was the strength and source of income for us. So then I had to stand my ground. I told her, "Okay, we lived together, and let's die together. You also don't go; I will also not go." because I thought of myself as Salman Khan. Like Rajnikanth, I made a decision and did not look back. So we both gave up our jobs when I had a 5-year-old son and a 3-year-old daughter. This was a huge risk, and sometimes I look back and call my story “a romance with risk”. So that’s how my wife became my first employee.
Well, I must tell you, after two years of resigning and starting the business, I asked my wife, "What nonsense was that? You would threaten me in the middle of the night, and then you also gave up the job. Was that to teach me a lesson?" You know what she said? The most important statement I'll never forget in my life.
She said, "You know you will win. I also know you will win. But no one knows you can't win without me.” This is the strength I had with me after having been married to her for so long.

Ready to secure your business?

Join other 2000+ Subscribers now!

Subscribe

Written by

Mohan Gandhi Ponnaganti
Mohan Gandhi Ponnaganti

Co-founder and CEO, Ofofo.io

Related posts

Cultural Entrepreneurship: Unveiling the Journey with Sanjay Anandaram

Cultural Entrepreneurship: Unveiling the Journey with Sanjay Anandaram

In this episode, Mohan Gandhi Ponnaganti, CEO of Ofofo.io, engages in an enriching conversation with Sanjay Anandaram, a veteran of the Indian startup ecosystem, on the fascinating theme of Cultural Entrepreneurship. Sanjay shares insights from his diverse career journey, which spans across various domains like teaching, lecturing, writing, and even exploring the intricate art of embroidery work.

Preserving Data Privacy: Exploring the PrivaSapien Approach with Abilash Soundararajan

Preserving Data Privacy: Exploring the PrivaSapien Approach with Abilash Soundararajan

In this insightful episode, Angad Gill from Ofofo, engages in a profound conversation with Abilash Soundararajan, CEO of PrivaSapien, a leader in the field of data privacy. Throughout the dialogue, they delve into intricate aspects of data privacy and the role of PrivaSapien in the data ecosystem.

The Labman! Dr. Velumani, the Billionaire founder of Thyrocare - Part 2

The Labman! Dr. Velumani, the Billionaire founder of Thyrocare - Part 2

In this revealing second part of 'The Labman' series, we delve into the life of Dr. A. Velumani, the brain behind Thyrocare. Uncover the answers to intriguing questions about his favorite drink, his dream meeting, and the influences that shaped his journey. Get inspired by his candid conversation that not only sheds light on his path to becoming a billionaire but also offers valuable lessons for aspiring entrepreneurs and dreamers. Find out why he's fondly known as the Labman and how his story can motivate you to reach your own heights of success.